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Design your Business Innovation!

Main EU initiatives to implement DT into policies and innovation action plan

Design is not just about the way things look; it is also about the way they work. It creates value and contributes to competitiveness, prosperity and well-being. The European Commission aims to accelerate the take-up of design in industrial and innovation activities at European, national and regional level.

What the Commission does

The importance of design as an activity to bring new ideas to the market has been recognised in the Innovation Union, a flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy.

The Commission aims to:

  • increase the use of design for innovation and growth across Europe;
  • raise awareness of how design-driven innovation increases efficiency in public services and drives business growth;
  • create capacity and competencies to deliver these policies;
  • design allows companies to anticipate users' expectations and create solutions they could have never thought of. It is about tapping into their emotion;
  • design can lead to rethinking ideas, such as changing the shape of a product to better adapt it to customers' needs, rearranging the functionalities of a website to make it more user-friendly, revamping a production line to gain resource efficiency, or streamlining processes within an organisation to improve performance.

The Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation

In order to fully exploit the design's potential to boost innovation, growth and job creation, the European Commission presented an action plan to promote the use of design in innovation.

Design is of particular importance to the Commission and is recognized as a key discipline and activity to bring ideas to market, transforming them into user-friendly and appealing products. Although some European countries are world leaders in design, others lack a robust design infrastructure and design capability. The action plan aims to tackle this systematic gap and to promote design driven innovation in industries and the public sector across Europe.

The Action Plan is built on the report 'Design for Growth and Prosperity' produced by the European Leadership Board Report in 2012.

Design for Europe   

Design for Europe implements the Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation

It provides:

  • a series of events to boost the adoption of design in innovation policies and support creation of capacity and competencies to deliver these policies
  • a web-based platform to support peer-learning, networking and partnerships.

Design for Europe is a three-year programme to support design-driven innovation across Europe. It is co-funded by the European Union as part of the EU's Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation.

The website: presents a collection of case studies, expert thought leadership, guides and tools.

Engagement: the website offers the facility to comment on articles and discuss the ideas and advice presented in them. The social media presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter encourage everyone to network, share examples and ask questions.

Events: a series of events and workshops to strengthen the community of practice, share knowledge and build skills.

Ambassadors: appointed ambassadors help to promote Design for Europe and champion design-driven innovation.

Experts: selected leading figures as Design for Europe experts. They contribute to the content on this platform, speak at our events and advocate for design at the highest level.

Design for Enterprises  

In order to foster the uptake of design approaches and techniques by SMEs, in 2016 the Commission launched the Design for Enterprises programme aimed at delivering training sessions on various possible applications of design methodologies in their day-to-day business.

Courses are directed at SMEs and at business intermediaries supporting SMEs, such as the members of the Enterprise Europe Network.

The core of the courses is to propagate and support design driven innovation, focusing on design as the key feature in the strategies to develop a SME in the global market of today. The training project is composed by two training programs: the full and the short courses.